Thursday, October 28, 2004

The first time I watched The Lord of the Rings, I didn't really get the whole Sam-and-Frodo thing. Why does Sam keep calling him "mister"? Why do they always get all mushy, but Sam has to carry all the stuff. If Sam is in Frodo's employ, why isn't he getting paid? What's going on here? They're so tight but there's the distinct feeling that Frodo's on the top of the ladder while Sam toils along in doe-eyed adoration.

The book didn't go a long way to explain it but the extra features on the DVD helped. Apparently in Tolkien's day, servants were more abundant.... many military generals and other important people had servants who were with them almost constantly, and it was common for the relationship between master and servant to be very close, to the point where a servants loyalty to his master superseded all else.

In our culture we have no frame of reference for that kind of relationship.

I've often struggled with how to view my relationship with God. I find that most people have a focus. For a while, I focused on "father-daughter," yet later, there was the "best friend" perspective. Somewhere down the road, there was the "soldier of Christ" thing. To many people, the "lover and the beloved" is the view that they prefer.

Paul calls himself a "slave of Christ." Slave? Excuse me? I could understand the logic behind that, but I could never embrace it. I don't gravitate towards slavery, it's not my thing. Other translations water it down.... in them, Paul calls himself a servant.

What am I getting at? Two things. First off, balance. It's great to be a lover of Christ, but don't forget that He's also your Master. It's cool to view Him as your Friend, but remember that He's your Father. Vice Versa. It's good to be obedient, but make sure you let Him comfort you when you're down. God isn't just a Father, a Friend, A Master, a Lover, a Creator..... or anything else.... He is ALL of those things.

Which brings me back to Frodo and Sam, who have illustrated how love and slavery can walk hand in hand. How I can be happy being a servant.

I think there was always this sort of awkwardness when I approached God, like I wasn't sure if I was supposed to salute or punch Him in the shoulder. Like two acquaintances who don't really know how much familiarity they've accumulated. Lately, He's been re-introducing Himself to me.

To me, He is Everything. And I am His.

Sunday, October 24, 2004

Well, I'm starting fresh. No links, no bio, no archives.

I want my blog to reflect my life, and right now, life is new and fresh for me. I get the distinct impression that I'm starting a new season in my life, not just because I've moved to a new city, but because I'm drawn to new things, and because I have a new faith.

I don't know what these days ahead of me hold, but I do know that I would like this to be a place of edification.

I'm excited. It's sunday morning and I'm looking forward to going to church, wondering what it is God will say today, wondering who will come to Viet-thai with me. Today I also expect to write letters to my boys in liberia, which of course will be both difficult and enjoyable. While I'm at it, I should write letters to my sponsor children as well. I think I missed their "back to school" packages. I think they like the letters better anyways. They always write back.

I spent the evening with our youth group, that is, the youth group run by Regina Vineyard. Most of the kids are friends of kids that go to church, which is why I recognized very few of them. 4 of them, a girl and her three brothers, are from Ethiopia, and I enjoyed talking with them and "tapping" (bouncing a soccer ball off your foot). It will take me a while to get to know all the kids, but now that I'm looking at being a regular helper with the youth group, I'm remembering that I always expected to work with youth.

I've been out of touch with spiritual matters for so long, so that at housegroup on Friday, I could find only one sentence to pray for a young man, and that came out haltingly, like a language I haven't spoken in 5 years.... like french.

I can tell that God is setting me up for many good things here, but I sense that the last years were necessary, that it has less to do with location and more to do with the condition of my heart. I have finally come to the end of myself. I knew, the last months in winnipeg, that if He didn't rescue me, I would die, or lose my mind, or first one and then the other. I felt everything in me shutting down from exhaustion, I saw my hair falling out. I feigned independence for so long, I pretended strength and fortitude and I determined to survive by the sweat and blood of my own two small hands. I suppose that God can do nothing with such an individual.

I broke down, and begged Him to save me. He came through smashingly, when my own strength failed. I understand it now. God's strength made perfect in my weakness. I understand how a person's life can't glorify God as long as they're perfectly capable of performing everything He's called them to do by their own strength. It makes sense to me now, it's not just a bible school mantra.

There are some things that need to be lived in order to be learned. I pray I don't ever forget this.

I must be making breakfast now.
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